Sometimes it doesn’t take much to entertain me. Lately I’ve found myself watching a TV reality series called Pawn Stars — and for those who aren’t familiar with the show let me just say that it’s better than it sounds.
It is truly amazing to see some of the odd objects that people bring in to pawn or sell — although there is obviously some staging going on. After all, you can’t very well keep the cameras rolling continuously just on the off chance that someone will walk in with a Super Bowl ring or a pirate’s treasure chest.
But my mind is never far from music, and even though the show features expensive collectible guitars and the like, it was actually a non-musical item that — er — triggered my thoughts about a particular song. A customer brought in an antique flintlock pistol that could have been used by a highwayman. That in turn led my thoughts to the singing group formed about 25 years ago by four legendary country music stars.
When Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson got together in the studio in the mid 80s, they were already well-established stars. They’d also all worked together at various times and in different combinations, but when they recorded “Highwayman” (while billing themselves as The Highwaymen) they struck pay dirt. The song rocketed to number one on the country charts and the album that followed ended up doing the same.
I’m sure the guys had a lot of fun with the whole thing, and they ended up getting together again from time to time through the years. It’s interesting to note that they weren’t exactly the first quartet calling themselves the Highwaymen, and it’s also worth mentioning that their success might have helped inspire the formation of a pop-rock group called the Traveling Wilburys — but both of those are stories for another day.